5 New Year resolutions (office edition)

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We were sitting around the carcass of a 17-pound prime rib roast on Christmas Day when my two brothers decided to place a bet: which of them could lose more weight in a year’s time? Just to set the picture, either of them would be welcome additions to any sumo dojo, and at stake is an all-expenses-paid trip to South Asia by my folks (not to mention their pulmonary health). So in the spirit of a real challenge, I offer up my (work-related) New Year resolutions for 2008.

1. Clean out my snack drawer.

Check it out:


I mean, come on. Am I ever going to finish the six-ounce bag of Not Nuts (what’s the point of nut-free trail mix)? The candied ginger is crystallizing, but I might keep it around; they say it helps with morning sickness. How old is this box of Whole Grain Wheat Thins? I concede most of my stash is healthy, and that’s just the problem. The Snickers, I have no problem finishing. You see what I’m saying?

2. Clean out my inbox.

There are at present 524 items in my e-mail inbox. I have glanced at most of them. I intended at one time to respond to many. In a given day, I receive perhaps between 100 and 200 e-mails, some of it solicited, much of it not. I hereby swear to methodically delete all the crap.

3. Clean out my office. For good.

I don’t have a choice in the matter; we’re moving floors, yet again, for reasons unknown to me. I think it’s part of the effort corporate calls “restacking,” which has something to do with efficiency and consolidation but more to do with forcing us pigs in edit to trash our junk once a year.

Here’s the thing: I’m wondering if I can do without an office at all. I do a lot of my work from home or off site anyway, and I really don’t need to be taking up expensive real estate just so my unread mail has a place to live. This is increasingly the trend; at IBM and Sun Microsystems, telecommuters simply come in when they need to and log onto any computer at any open work station. I love the idea of a common room in which we writers can close our stories. Some, of course, prefer to hole up in the building; those guys can keep their own rooms, I figure. Give me a laptop and a desk in a pen. And maybe a locker for my snacks.

4. That’s brilliant. I’m going to suggest it.

5. Produce work I’m proud of.

This is not exactly a new resolution, or even a once-a-year resolution, in that it’s my constant and yet elusive goal. I’m not super ambitious in the corporate sense; I’m not maneuvering to climb the ladder or take over a section. I don’t want to be the boss of anybody but me. All I want is to write stuff I care about in a voice that’s my own, and be able to read it back a month later without throwing up a little in my mouth.

I’d also like to produce a healthy baby in six months’ time. Not that that’s a work thing, unless of course I go into labor while sitting in a story meeting. That would blow. I resolve to produce work I’m proud of in 2008, including a small person whom I will not deliver at the office.

How about you, friends? What are your work—or life—resolutions? Inspire me.